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Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Best American Short Stories 2008

Who doesn't love a good short story?  A novel is like a marriage, when you get started on something as thick as your wrist you're making a commitment, saying you'll be there to the end, through the slow bits, the overextended dialogue, the what was that scene doing in there anyway moments, all of them.  When you read a novel you're doing it as much so that you have a trophy on your wall, or in our modern world so that you have another post on your blog.

Short stories though, those are like quick dates.  Some are outstanding and life transforming and some are completely forgettable.  No one ever talks about them, unless you're giving a quick weekend update to your coworkers but they still have the power to slowly transform you just a bit from who you were on Friday afternoon.

The Best American series is a series of books that compiles short pieces of writing into several volumes, some of the volumes are essays, sports writing, travel writing and the list goes on and on.  I'm so glad that in our electronic age there is  a place to go to celebrate the short printed word.  Like most e-connected people I do most of my reading online now.  Sadly most of it doesn't even approach literature, it's mostly about staying informed and not about becoming connected with my fellow man.  Strange how reading and writing, activities done in such solitude have are one of the best ways to connect and share.

One of the things that I loved most about the book is that at the end they had interviews with all the authors, some gave up more than others about the origins and process that brought birth to their story, some just had a few sentences, but what they all had in common was the fact that there was a process, some feedback and some major revision that happened before a masterwork short story can be put out into the world.

Yes I liked most of the stories, so much so that I bought the whole series going back to 1990.  From when I graduated from high school to today in literature, stacked up beside my bookshelf.  I plan on supporting this series going forward and would even like to subscribe to a few literary journals.  I hope the tradition of working over 7500 or so words of fiction until they say something true about ourselves never dies.

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Hey I appreciate you leaving your thoughts behind! Be well my friend.